Tester Introduces Critical Voting Rights Legislation Aimed at Defending Montanans’ Right to Vote, Cleaning Up Elections
Freedom to Vote Act maintains local control of voting systems while shining a light on dark money in politics
As part of his ongoing fight to secure our elections, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today introduced critical legislation that will ensure every eligible Montanan has fair and equal access to the ballot box and clean up our campaign finance system.
Tester’s Freedom to Vote Act secures access to the ballot box for all eligible voters, shines a light on dark money in politics, and advances commonsense election security reforms to defend elections from bad actors. The bill also includes Tester’s Spotlight Act to require certain political non-profit organizations to disclose their donors to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), reversing a Trump-era rule that eliminated the requirement and allowed such organizations to keep their donors secret.
“Free and fair elections are a cornerstone of our democracy, plain and simple,” Tester said. “This bill will allow us to maintain local control over our voting systems while keeping our elections safe in the face of new and evolving threats, shine a light on dark money in politics, and close loopholes that allow foreign spending on elections. It’s our responsibility to ensure that every eligible Montanan is able to make their voice heard at the ballot box, and I’m proud to have worked with a wide range of my colleagues to craft legislation that will do just that.”
The Freedom to Vote Act includes many of Tester’s longtime priorities to clean up and secure elections, including:
- Makes federal Election Day a public holiday.
- Requires states to offer or instate same-day voter registration.
- Requires states to allow automatic and online voter registration and authorizes $500 million to help states register eligible voters.
- Requires states to offer a mail-in ballot to any voter who request one, protects and improve the reliability and security of vote-by-mail, and increase access to safe ballot drop box locations.
- Creates common sense standards for voter identification, including allowing individuals to use a range of IDs – including student IDs – to register and cast their votes. Ensures voters have access to at least 15 consecutive days of early voting for federal elections.
- Increase protections for Native voters by protecting the use of Tribal IDs, requiring ballot drop off locations on Tribal lands, increasing accommodations for voters with P.O. boxes, and requiring more consultation with Tribal leaders.
Campaign Finance Reform
- Gets dark money out of campaigns by requiring super PACs, nonprofits, and other political organizations that engage in political activity to disclose information about donors who contribute more than $10,000.
- Includes Tester’s Spotlight Act to require certain tax-exempt organizations to disclose basic information about major donors to the IRS.
- Improves transparency by requiring disclaimers on online ads and requiring large digital platforms to maintain a public database of political ad purchases that are over $500 per year.
- Prohibits foreign nationals from contributing to or making decisions about election contributions by corporations or other entities.
- Ensures that political ads sold online have the same transparency and disclosure requirements as ads sold on TV, radio, and satellite.
- Protects against foreign interface in our elections and creates a reporting requirement for federal campaigns to disclose certain foreign contacts to the FBI.
- Puts in place election vendor cybersecurity standards, including standards for manufacturing and requiring that voting machines be assembled in the U.S.
- Requires states to use voting systems that produce a paper ballot.
- Provides grants for states to purchase new and more secure voting systems and make cybersecurity improvements.
- Establishes federal protections to insulate nonpartisan state and local officials who administer federal elections from undue partisan interference or control.
In addition to the Freedom to Vote Act, Tester, who is the founder of the Senate Transparency Caucus, is pushing several other measures to bring more accountability and transparency to campaigns.
Tester recently introduced his Corporations Are Not People Constitutional Amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and declare that corporations are not people; his Sunlight for Unaccountable Non-Profits (SUN) Act to increase transparency in online political advertising and require political non-profits to publically disclose their major donors; and his Cleaning Up Washington’s Act to help “drain the swamp” and close the revolving door between special interest lobbyist and Members of Congress.
More information on Tester’s work to improve accountability and transparency in government is available HERE.